The observer who tries to understand German-Czech relations apart from their historical and geographical context often finds them unintelligible. For behind recent political crises lie many decades of Czech and German history which helped to shape their modern form. Central Europe has been a traditional ground of national conflicts. Despite the many human, economic, cultural, and geographical bonds between peoples who inhabit the same country, the struggle between the Czechs who lived in the Bohemian salient (thrust deep into the German territory) and the Germans, who came into Bohemia as colonists, has been a permanent feature of the history of this area.
The fall of Austria-Hungary and the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic weighed heavily on the minds of the Germans when they suddenly lost their dominant position. The lack of a democratic political conception, the attrition of their younger generation, the lost war, and the existence of the new Republic under Czech leadership, helped to account for their frustrations and bitterness and their determination not to efface the idea of Greater Germany. They became part of the new state merely because of the outcome of the war and geopolitical and economic circumstances, since the independence of Czechoslovakia required the inclusion of predominantly German sections in her borders. The paradox was that the presence of the German minority was a condition of the existence of the independent Republic.